September 24, 2007
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is reminding Texans that the arrival of fall does not mean they should relax their guard against mosquito bites.
“In most of Texas, we wouldn’t know it was fall without a calendar,” said Tom Sidwa, a veterinarian and manager of DSHS’ zoonosis control program. “Temperatures remain high, and mosquitoes are still very active.”
He said 30 percent of the state’s 1,700 West Nile cases from 2002 - 2006 became ill after Aug. 31.
Mosquitoes can carry viruses that cause West Nile, dengue fever, western equine encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis.
Sidwa offered the following precautions to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne infection.
- Use an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Drain standing water from around homes. Empty cans, buckets, tires, rain gutters and flower pot bases regularly. Change the water in pet bowls, bird baths and wading pools several times a week.
- Mosquito-proof houses. Make sure door seals are secure and window screens are intact.
- Limit the amount of time spent outdoors from dusk to dawn when many species of mosquitoes are most active.
- Cover as much skin as comfortable when outdoors.
This year DSHS has confirmed 69 human cases of West Nile neuroinvasive illness, 16 cases of dengue fever and one case of St. Louis encephalitis. None of the dengue infections were acquired in Texas. No human cases of western equine encephalitis or eastern equine encephalitis have been recorded in Texas for several years.
“Certainly, not every mosquito bite causes illness,” Sidwa said. “But it’s still important to take precautions.”
(News Media: For more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, Austin, 512-458-7524.)